If you want to get a really good summary of the contending election strategies at this early stage of the federal campaign, read Evan Solomon’s piece at macleans.ca.
It’s simple, concise, and – from the feel of it – informed by conversations with people who know what is going on. That sets Solomon apart from a lot of media types who write “analysis” pieces.
The Conservatives strategy has been to drive Trudeau’s numbers down so that Mulcair rises. So far so good. While Solomon considers this a risky strategy for Harper, all you have to do is look at the New Democrats to see it could be a very effective idea.
The NDP are like the French in the First World War. Convinced of their own brilliance, they are charging hard right into the hole open up for them by the Conservative attack on Trudeau. What Mulcair and his advisors don;t seem to see is that that they are playing right into the Conservative strategy.
For those who missed it, the German plan in the Great War was to encircle the French with a sweep along the Channel coast while the French – blind to everything except their own genius – went charging headlong into void the Germans deliberately left in Alsace.
Same thing here for the Dippers.
They have been so convinced of their inevitable success – due to a misreading of events since 2011 – that the Dippers have been strutting about as the great hope to defeat the Conservatives. Confidence is one thing. The Dipper communications have bordered on braggadocio and that’s something else entirely.
Time will tell.
Another thing you can use to help figure out what is going on is polling. You can also use the polling to evaluate Solomon’s assessment.
One of the things Eric Grenier pointed out on Wednesday in a CBC analysis piece is that the Conservative voters are pretty well locked in place, according to recent polling.
Non-Conservative voters are more malleable, meaning they are more open to second choices. This isn’t the kind of great opportunity Grenier makes it out to be. This willingness to shift votes is especially strong among people who currently identify as New Democrats.
This is a chronic problem the Dippers have had, even under Mulcair. EKOS pointed this as the top challenge of three the NDP will face. Abacus’ July poll showed how soft the NDP support is. No one should discount this issue for the NDP.
The hard bottom line on current polling is that it does not show any party has a clear line to victory. Grenier is exceedingly enthusiastic about the NDP chances but then again. Whenever possible, he interprets the numbers as giving the NDP the greatest advantage. Unfortunately for Grenier – and the NDP - the numbers aren’t that clear by a long shot.
That’s the room in which the Conservatives will manoeuvre, as Solomon notes. It’s also where other changes can happen as well. It’s a bit early to count Trudeau out. Eight more cycles of anti-Trudeau Connie ads might not have the effect the Conservatives expect. Then again, they might work as the Conservatives have forecast. Mulcair might not survive the close examination voters will likely give him over the next dozen weeks.
You’ve got Solomon’s perspective. You’ve got the polls. The third thing to keep in mind is a simple one: there is no single, national campaign any more. There are a bunch of regional ones. What is happening with each of the parties varies across the country. The reasons for party choice vary. National polls – and national pollsters - often have a hard time figuring it out.
Althia Raj’s piece in the Huffington Post has two familiar themes in it:
First, the media’s love of the imaginary idea that the NDP are the front runners in the current campaign. They aren’t. They are somewhere in among the pack. There is no clear leader anywhere, if you actually look at the results.
Second, a main article that actually confirms the headline is a piece of crap designed to suck in readers. Work your way past the stuff up at the front in the piece about the brilliant NDP strategy and you will find – surprise, surprise – the one thing that makes the NDP Genius theme complete bunk: NDP support is as soft as baby crap.
Couple that with the rest of the piece and you can see the confirmation that the NDP “strategy” is actually just the Conservative plan working itself out. Ask any strategist: when you are following the script set out by your opponent you aren’t winning and you surely are NOT a genius. You are a stooge.